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Topic: Bestest Books... :-D

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Subject: Bestest Books... :-D
Date Posted: 6/30/2009 12:01 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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Well, we are just about midway through the year now. What is the best book you have read so far?

Best fiction? Best non-fiction? Give us your bests!

Inquiring minds need to know! ;-)

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Off the top of my head (and I'll check to see exactly what I've read this year later and report back if necessary), my three "bestests" so far this year have been The Lady & The UnicornMistress of the Art of Death, and The Far Pavilions, which I'm only 1/3 of the way through but enjoying very, very much!  I haven't read any non-fiction. 

Valli - Are you going to start a "worstest" thread too?



Last Edited on: 6/30/09 12:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 6/30/2009 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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This one is easy for me.  The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.  She wrote it in the 1950s and it's loosely based on her childhood before WWI.  It's about an eccentric, musical family and is told from the POV of one of the young daughters.  The voice is truly wonderful.  I knew by page two that I would love this book and I was completely not diisappointed.

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
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Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn is the best book I've read so far this year. Silent in the Sanctuary is a close second.

Raybourn is taking a break before continuing the series (boo hiss!) but the three books that are out so far are good enough to re-read when No. 4 does finally come out!

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 3:49 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
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I have 2 favorites (neither are HF): The Art of Racing in the Rain and Wesley the Owl.

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 5:45 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
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I think it is impossible to choose just one, or even two or three favorites.  It's hard to compare the novels by different authors, writing about different eras of history, etc.  Apples and oranges type of thing.  I particularly enjoyed Bernard Cornwell's Warlord trilogy about King Arthur.  And how can you compare that saga with a book like The Book Thief??  Such a remarkable, unusual book, and unlike any other I've read.  I also really liked Azincourt,  Guernica, by Dave Boling,  and Tai Pan, by Clavell.

Not in the same class when considering great examples of historical fiction, but in the area of historical romance (which I frequently read for comfort, for a "break" from the wars and conflicts we so often encounter in medieval England)  I loved Georgette Heyer's Frederica -- such delightful fun.

Linda

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 7:44 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
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So far, what I've loved the most are:

- The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye

- Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor

I'm at the end of Forever Amber and should be done tonight. It's hard to choose which I prefer, between the two. I just loved The Far Pavilions, but the last 1/4 of the book wasn't as good as the first 3/4. For that reason alone, I might prefer Forever Amber, which has been compulsively readable the whole way through.

Date Posted: 6/30/2009 10:38 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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Interesting question when I just finished my first 5 star book for the year,  Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris.  I have a real weakness for "detective" novels whether H/F or not  and this one was a marvel.  It's  about a Palestinian investigator hired by a wealthy Saudi family to find their missing daughter.  I had read a write up about this book in our local paper some months ago and put it on my wishlist right away.  It's a very quick but totally enthralling read about a society that we know very little about.  Highly recommended!  For best H/F so far I would have to say Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman; a beautifully written book about Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Thomas Beckett.  I can't wait to get into Devil's Brood which is a continuation of the story, I believe.  I didn't realize how little N/F I had read this year until I went back and actually looked.  The best so far for me would have to be 1453 by Roger Crowley.  The book is about the siege and fall of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire.

 

 



Last Edited on: 7/1/09 5:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 7/1/2009 10:19 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
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My favorites so far this year are The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfied and The Last Full Measure by Jeff Shaara. I am also really enjoying the Sir John Fielding Mystery series by Bruce Alexander. I just finished the 5th book in the series.

Date Posted: 7/1/2009 12:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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Linda, I agree completely! It is too hard to choose just one or two. I suggested choosing favorites for different genres just for that reason; because I knew it would be impossible for me to choose just one, lol. Here's my list....

Best Historical Fiction -

  • Peony in Love by Lisa See - I loved this tale of the "hungry ghost" far more than See's first book.
  • The River Wife - Jonis Agee - This one was dark and dismal full of unlikeable characters, but was also so compelling.
  • City of Thieves - David Benioff - Two men set off during the Siege of Leningrad to find eggs. Tragic, but also full of comedy.

Best Non-fiction

  • The Hot Zone - Douglas Preston - This one mad me want to wash my hands....over and over. Oh, the descriptions of disease in this onje made me sick to my stomach, but I couldn't quit reading!
  • The Englishman's Daughter - Ben Macintyre - Set during WWI. When four Englishmen became seperated from their regiments behind enemy lines, an entire French town conspired to protect them. Great story, but tragic.

Best Contemporary Fiction -

  • The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty - A feel good story with just enough tragedy to keep it from being too sappy. Loved this one!!
  • The Society of S by Susan Hubbard - A modern day vampire story with a gothic feel.

Best series -

  • The First Americans - William Sarabande - I read eight books in this series, one right after the other which is something I never do. Before this year, I hadn't read pre-historic fiction since high school, but I'm glad I found this series; loved it!
  • The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher - I've only read the first 3 books in this series, but I know it's going to be a favorite. Love the wizard!

Okay, I think that's it! :-D In a couple of months, I'll probably have an entirely different list. The book I'm reading now is always the one I love the most...until I start a new book.

Date Posted: 7/1/2009 12:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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I think my #1 for historical fiction so far this year would be Someone Knows my Name by Lawrence Hill.  Also enjoyed The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and all of the Robin Maxwell books I've read this year: Signora da Vinci, The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, Virgin: Prelude to the Throne, and The Queen's Bastard.  Just finished and loved The Courts of Love by Jean Plaidy as well.

Haven't read a lot of non-fiction this year but I really liked Tweak by Nic Sheff. I read his dad's book Beautiful Boy last year which tells the story of how he dealt with his son's drug addiction and this one is from the son's perspective.

My WL is maxed but I can see that when I do get room on there I will be adding a few :)

 

Date Posted: 7/1/2009 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Valli - Thank you for your thorough list!  A couple of thoughts I had - I read The Hot Zone years ago, and it toally gave me the creeps.  It made me never, ever, ever want to travel to Africa!  Thanks to your recommendation in another thread, I recently ordered The Memory of Running.  Can't wait to read it!  I loved Sarabande's First American series!  It's been quite awhile since I read them, but I remember totally digging on them. I discovered the series after reading the Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series and wanting more, more, more!   My DH thinks I'm totally whacked, but I love pre-historic fiction!  If I didn't have so many zillions of other books on my shelf, I'd be on the lookout for a new series to get into! 

Holly - Which was your favorite Robin Maxwell book?  I loved Signora da Vinci, but the reviews for her other books are mixed, so I haven't pursued any of them.  Are they worth a read?

Date Posted: 7/1/2009 3:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
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MIne this year would have to be:

 

Pillars of the Earth--Ken Follett

The Hairstons--Henry Weincek

 

PoE is well known--it just reads like the best story, and I"m waiting for the movie deal on it, it would be a great film.  The Hairstons is not so popular a book and is actually non-fiction, plain old history--but it is written in such a lively style and strong voice that it reads like the best historical fiction. It details the black and white branches of one plantation family since the Civil War, as they all kept the same surname. It traces the descendents and tackles ordinarily taboo issue of the white/black intermixing and liberal sexual relations common on plantations...and comes to the pleasant and surprising conclusion that those occurrences were desired by both sides and not always one of the master forcing himself on unwilling slaves. A thought-provoking book.

Date Posted: 7/1/2009 4:06 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
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I can't choose just one for fiction. A three-way tie would be:

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay

As for nonfiction, I'll have to get back to you. ;-) - Okay, got it. Best nonfiction, so far this year, is one of May Sarton's journals,  A House By the Sea.

Pam

 



Last Edited on: 7/1/09 4:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/1/2009 4:07 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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I had to go back and check,  I went a little Bernard Cornwell crazy with the grail series etc. but I loved  "Azincourt", also Ken Follett's "A Dangerous Fortune" and Robyn Youngs series of the Templars.  Oh and Barbara Erskines books most of them I enjoyed just for the change of pace loved "The Lady of Hay".  I also took the plunge and read "Outlander" and the rest which I LOVED! whew !  It's July now and my tbr pile is no smaller. Oh well  I have to stop being lazy and post the books I've culled, maybe tomorrow.

Date Posted: 7/3/2009 7:14 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
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So far, hands down:

Legacy by Susan Kay (about Elizabeth I).  It's supposed to be reissued next year.  It's one I would gladly pay full price for!

Date Posted: 7/4/2009 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

Lady Macbeth

Girl With a Pearl Earring

Date Posted: 7/4/2009 12:50 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,390
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I checked over my 2009 reading list, and while I've read several books I rated 5 stars and even more that warranted 4.5 stars, the real standouts so far for the year are:

  • The Book Thief, Marcus Zusak
  • Devil's Brood, Sharon Kay Penman
  • The Winthrop Woman, Anya Seton
  • The Josephine B Trilogy by Sandra Gulland
  • The Island at the Center of the World, Russell Shorto (non-fiction)

Kelly

 

Date Posted: 7/4/2009 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2007
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Holly - Which was your favorite Robin Maxwell book?  I loved Signora da Vinci, but the reviews for her other books are mixed, so I haven't pursued any of them.  Are they worth a read?

I really liked them all!  I've read To the Tower Born too and really liked her writing style so I ordered all of her other ones.  I have The Wild Irish and Mademoseille Boleyn on my shelf waiting to be read.  I really liked both Elizabeth boks though.

Date Posted: 7/4/2009 4:53 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,390
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Michelle - just had to mention my total agreement w/ you re. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I read it in 2008 or I would certainly have listed it among "bestest" of this year so far.  It is one of my all-time favorites.

Linda

Date Posted: 7/4/2009 7:19 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
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Kelly, I'm so sad I finished it!  I didn't want it to end!  This is a keeper, for sure.

Date Posted: 7/6/2009 11:13 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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Thanks, Holly!  I have The WIld Irish on my bookshelf too.  Will try to read it soon so I can decide if I want to pursue other Maxwell books.

Date Posted: 7/6/2009 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2009
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I'm #1 on the WL for Wild Irish, so y'all hurry up with it! LOL! 

And to stay on topic....I just finished Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith and I do believe it is the best book I've read all year.  Totally unique from anything I've ever read before.

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was my best of the best for 2008. I have now bought five copies of it and given them all way to friends. Wonderful book! You want everyone you know to read it so you can talk about it.

Thanks to this thread, I have a few more books to add to my wishlist. ;-)

Date Posted: 7/7/2009 9:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,211
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My favorite book so far this year is The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney (not sure if the author's name is spelled right and I'm too lazy to look it up)!